Environment Network would like to recognize the role of Green Communities Canada in providing tools and resources that support School Travel Planning.
If the current trends continue we may no longer have a generation that will remember walking to school. Vehicle ownership is increasing steadily, resulting in congested roads and increased air pollution from transportation. As more people opt to drive to their destination, parent’s fears of traffic dangers and personal safety increase, forcing parents to drive their children to and from school. School areas, in many communities, have become traffic nightmares and all too frequently we hear children becoming victims of collisions right outside their school.
Approximately two-thirds of Canadian children and youth are not active enough to lay a solid foundation for future health and well-being. Good health requires being surrounded by a natural environment with clean air and water. Features of the environment such as type of housing, street patterns, access to playgrounds and community safety also impact their health. For example, according to Simcoe Muskoka Health Statistics, children living in communities with higher levels of traffic-related pollution had lung infection growth of approximately 10% slower than children in lower air pollution communities. Thus, having cars idle around school entrances will have a negative effect on children’s overall lung health. In fact, in 2005 the most common condition requiring visits to hospital emergency rooms in Simcoe Muskoka was illnesses of the respiratory system (more than one quarter of visits). The ASRTS program would, in addition to promoting children to use active and safe transportation, also develop designated drop-ff zones near schools (in places such as nearby parks) in which parents could drop-off their children. This would allow parents to drive their children to the school area, while also ensuring that after children are dropped off, they were arriving to school safely, participating in active transportation, and not being affected by the air-pollution created from traffic-congested drop-off zones directly in front of schools.
The amount of physical activity a child gets is, in part, determined by their physical environment. If a child cannot bike or walk to school because there are no sidewalks to walk on safely, their level of physical activity is reduced. Research has shown that since the 1960s, fewer children make their own way to school. Most are driven by school bus or private vehicle. In fact, a 2015 survey conducted in Barrie at Emma King Public School showed that 61% of children were driven to school and 51% were picked up from school.
Further, The “Dangerous student car drop-off behaviours and child pedestrian-motor vehicle collisions: an observational study” article on Traffic Injury Prevention, conducted in January of 2016, illustrates some shocking data analysis and statistics towards the negative impacts school drop-offs can have in Toronto.
For more information on these statistics, we have attached a link below to the study as well as a link to a news clip, which talks to the authors of the study.
The Benefits of the Program
•Increased physical activity for children and youth
•A healthier lifestyle for the whole family
•Less traffic congestion around schools
•Safer and calmer streets and neighbourhoods
•Improved air quality and a cleaner environment
How does Active and Safe Routes to School work?
International Walk to School Day – takes places in early October and provides the perfect opportunity to start an ASRTS program.
Neighbourhood Walkabouts – Ensures the routes to school are safe. Organized by parents and staff from the school, a site tour is conducted of the school area.
Walk/Wheel Wednesday – Schools set aside once day a week to walk to school. Classes can have friendly competition to encourage walking. http://www.saferoutestoschool.ca/walkwheel-wednesdays
Walk a Block – Encourage parents to safely park their car a few blocks from the school, and then walk the remaining blocs with their children. Traffic congestion and pollution are reduced in the immediate school area.
Walking School Buses – Volunteer parents who live on the same blocks take turns walking children to and from school.
Walking School Bus Q & A - For anyone who would like to participate in our Walking School Bus at Cameron Street Public School, please review this information first:
No Idling at School – Encourages motorists who stop outside schools to turn off their engines while they wait.
Active & Safe Routes to School Resource Guide Downloadable Resources and School Travel Planning:
Information for Teachers:
This program is proudly supported by